From the second edition (1989):
tight, a. (adv.)
(taɪt) Forms: 5–6 tyght, 6– Sc. ticht, tycht, 5– tight (also erron. 7–8 tite, tyte). [App. an altered form of thight, with which in its early literal senses it was synonymous. Tonne-tight and tonne-thight occur together in Rolls of Parlt. 1379: see sense 14. The change from thight to tight was perh. due to the influence of native words from the *teuh, *tauh-, *tuh- verbal system: see tee v.1, and cf. taut a., tight v.1, and ticht pa. pple. of tie v.]


A. adj.


1. a. Dense, as a wood or thicket; = thight 1; superseded by thick (thick a. 4) Obs. rare—1.

c1435 Torr. Portugal 589 Hys squyer Rod all nyght In a wod, that wase full tyght.


b. Close or compact in texture or consistency, as a solid body or substance; dense, solid; = thight 3. Obs. rare.

1513 Douglas Æneis ix. ii. 64 The wyld wolf‥Abowt the bowght, plet all of wandis tyght, Bayis and gyrnis. 1677 Grew Anat. Fruits v. §18 The Outer Part‥is softer and more succulent; the Inner a tite and strong Membrane. a1728 [implied in tightness 1]. 1797 Encycl. Brit. (ed. 3) XVII. 424/1 Construct a block of as tight wood as possible.


2. Of such close texture or construction as to be impervious to a fluid, etc. a. as the second element in combinations, as water-tight, wind-tight, air-tight, gas-tight, oil-tight, light-tight, the first element denoting that which the vessel keeps in or out.

1507 Rec. St. Mary at Hill 23 Yat they‥ye said tenement‥shall kepe, repaire and mayntene, wynd tyght, water tyght. 1760 [see air-tight]. 1831 Gas-tight [see gas n.1 6]. 1896 Pop. Sci. Jrnl. L. 267 The human mind is not built in thought-tight compartments. 1905 Westm. Gaz. 11 Mar. 14/2 Untoned prints should be kept under close pressure in a light-tight and air-tight box.


b. as simple word.
(See also tight barrel, cask, cooper, etc. in C. 3.)

[1501: see thight 4.] 1661 [see d]. 1669 Boyle Contn. New Exp. i. xxxvii, The Nose of a pair of Bellows that are Tite enough is well stopt. 1749 Berkeley Word to Wise Wks. III. 443 A tight house, warm apparel, and wholesome food. 1856 Olmsted Slave States 2, I have faith that there is a tight roof above the very much cracked ceiling. 1857 Miller Elem. Chem. (1862) III. 144 A portion of bread was enclosed in a tight case, to prevent loss of water by evaporation.


c. esp. Of a ship: Water-tight; well caulked and pitched; not leaky. Cf. thight 4.

1568 Satir. Poems Reform. xlvi. 4 Quhat pylett takis my schip in chairge, Mon hald hir clynlie, trym, and ticht. 1596 Shakes. Tam. Shr. ii. i. 381 Two Galliasses And twelue tite Gallies. 1615 Bp. Hall Contempl., O.T. xi. iii, As some tight vessel that holds out against wind and water, so did Ruth against all the powers of a mother's persuasions. 1704 J. Harris Lex. Techn. I, Tite, the Seamen say a Ship is Tight, or Tite, when she is so staunch as to let in but very little Water. 1747 Gentl. Mag. 170 The pitch being put in very hot will‥make the ship as tight as a bottle. a1826 A. Cunningham Wet Sheet & Flowing Sea ii, The good ship tight and free.


d. transf. and fig. leading to 3. Uncommunicative; secret; spec. Oil Industry, applied to a well about which little information is released.

1661 Feltham Resolves ii. xxix. 240 They are not tyte enough to trust with a secret. 1730 in J. Copywell Shrubs Parnassus (1760) 130 Old Chaucer and Drayton I found in good plight, And Shakespear and Spencer appear pretty tight. 17‥ C. Dibdin Song, The Island i, O, 'tis a snug little island! A right little, tight little island! 1809 Malkin Gil Blas vii. i. ⁋5 He is a tight vessel, well armed and manned. 1817 Cobbett Wks. VI. 31 A Sinecure, which you have secured for your Son,‥who is (if all remains tight) to enjoy it for his life after your death. 1865 Dickens Mut. Fr. i. viii, Mr. Boffin's notions of a tight will. 1949 Amer. Speech XXIV. 34 If information about the venture is withheld from the public, then it becomes a tight well. 1966 Natural Resources Jrnl. (Univ. New Mexico) VI. 55 If the draining well is what is commonly known in the industry as a ‘tight hole’, the information concerning its performance is probably more closely guarded than most national defense secrets. 1976 M. Machlin Pipeline ii. 32 ‘Who knows about this [sc. an oil-strike]?’ ‘Nobody but me and a couple of guys here on the platform know for sure.‥ Communication is lousy here, but rumour travels faster than radio waves.’ ‘Okay. Shut it off‥and see if you can keep it as tight a hole as possible.’ 1977 B. Freemantle Charlie Muffin v. 59 The British‥[have] gone completely silent.‥ The British Embassy is tighter than the Kremlin itself.


3. fig. of a person, expressing somewhat indefinite commendation: Competent, capable, able, skilful; alert, smart; lively, vigorous, stout; also in ironical use: cf. fine a. 12c. Obs. exc. dial.

1598 [implied in tightly 1]. 1606 Shakes. Ant. & Cl. iv. iv. 16 Thou fumblest Eros, and my Queenes a Squire More tight at this then thou. 1653 R. Baillie Dissuas. Vind. (1655) Pref., That reverent, famous, most able, and tight writer. 1735 Bracken Burdon's Pocket Farrier 81 note, The less Physick the better, provided your Judgment's tite. 1822 Scott Pirate xl, He‥swore‥that if he had a thousand daughters, so tight a lad, and so true a friend, should have the choice of them. a1825 Forby Voc. E. Anglia, Tight,‥prompt; active; alert. ‘A tight fellow!’ 1829 Marryat F. Mildmay ii, I'll pay you off for this, my tight fellow. 1851 Hawthorne Ho. Sev. Gables xiii, It will take a tighter workman than I am to keep the spirits out of the seven gables. 1891 Wrench Winchester Word-bk., Tight, fast, hard. A tight bowler, etc.


4. a. Neat in appearance; neatly and carefully dressed; trim, tidy, smart; also, Of a neat compact build, well-made, shapely. arch. or dial. Cf. taut a. 2b.

1697 W. Dampier Voy. round World (1699) 11 They wear good Cloaths, and take delight to go neat and tight. 1706–7 Farquhar Beaux Strat. i. i, But you look so bright, And are dress'd so tight. 1712 Arbuthnot John Bull iii. ii, Though the girl was a tight clever wench, as any was. 1721 Ramsay Bessy Bell, etc. iii, She blooming, tight, and tall is. 1821 Scott Kenilw. iii, There thou stand'st in thy velvet waistcoat, as tight a girl as England's sun shines on. c1830 Mrs. Sherwood Houlston Tracts III. No. 81. 2, I was tight and smart in my own person; so that, as the neighbours used to say, every thing looked well upon me. 1886 M. K. Macmillan Dagonet the Jester 8 The tightest and cleanliest lads in the village.


b. Of things: Neatly arranged or constructed; tidy, neat, snug, compact. Now dial.

1720 Ramsay Edinburgh's Salut. v, Than I, nor Paris, nor Madrid, Nor Rome, I trow's mair able To busk you up a better bed, Or trim a tighter table. 1725 T. Thomas in Portland Papers VI. (Hist. MSS. Comm.) 126 Improved grounds‥with tight, low, new farm houses. c1813 Mrs. Sherwood Stories Ch. Catech. xvi. 139 Sarah was contented with the coarsest gown‥if it were but clean and tight. 1831 J. Ogilvie in Aberdeen Mag. Dec. 638 His wordy wife‥Hauds a' thing tight about the house.


5. Firmly fixed or bound in its place; strongly attached or secured; not easily moved; also fig. faithful, steadfast, constant.

1513 Douglas Æneis iii. viii. 52 Our fallowis fangis in thair salis tycht [Vela legunt socii]. 1687 A. Lovell tr. Thevenot's Trav. i. 23 To gird it about with great bars of Iron to keep it tight, and hinder it from falling. 1690 C. Nesse O. & N. Test. I. 153 His faith‥kept him all along tight, steady and constant. 1715 Desaguliers Fires Impr. 129 You may fix it without any trouble, and be sure that it is tight. 1902 M. Barnes-Grundy Thames Camp 202, I pulled and strained, but it was as tight as wax.


b. On terms of close friendship, intimate. Cf. thick a. (n.) 10. U.S. slang.

1956 B. Holiday Lady sings Blues (1973) ii. 23 Blue‥had me busted.‥ He and Bub were real tight with the cops. 1971 Current Slang (Univ. S. Dakota) VI. 10 Tight, very much in love; very friendly. ‘John and Mary were really tight for awhile but they seem to have drifted apart.’ 1977 Rolling Stone 5 May 55/1, I was very tight with him for a long time.


6. a. Drawn or stretched so as to be tense; not loose or slack: said of a rope, etc., or of a surface; = taut a. 1, 2.

1576 Fleming Panopl. Epist. 256 (Like vnto a bowe) sometimes bent very tight, and sometimes againe made slack for the nones. 1589 Peele Tale Troy 256 Away they flye, their tackling teft [ed. 1604 toft] and tight. 1703 W. Dampier Voy. III. 19 When the Rope is hal'd tight. 1800 Coleridge Christabel ii. 49 That (so it seem'd) her girded vests Grew tight beneath her heaving breasts. 1846 F. Brittan tr. Malgaigne's Man. Oper. Surg. 39 The knots ought to be tight enough to hold in apposition the edges of the wound; but not so tight as to cut the skin when the inflammation comes on, and the parts swell. 1857 Hughes Tom Brown i. iv, Tom has eaten‥and imbibed coffee, till his little skin is as tight as a drum. 1885 Law Rep. 15 Q.B. Div. 360 The belt‥was passed over the drums‥and drawn tight.


b. fig. Strict, stringent; severe.

1872 Bagehot Physics & Pol. (1876) 37 The efficacy of the tight early polity and the strict early law. 1884 Storrs Div. Orig. Chr. v. 152 The larger moral power won by woman, by degrees made the tightest legal restrictions loose and elastic. 1887 Poor Nellie (1888) 294 Every boy wants a good tight hand over him.


c. Of an organization or group: strict, disciplined, well co-ordinated; spec. of a pop group or an individual member of it.

1968 L. Deighton Only when I Larf vi. 80, I ran a tight unit, and if that meant repeating my lecture every week, then I'd do that. 1971 Melody Maker 9 Oct. 21/3 Keef can be proud of his [jazz-rock] band.‥ It's well rehearsed, tight and above all fun. 1977 Ibid. 26 Mar. 46/6 (Advt.), Wanted. Good tight drummer for funky group. 1980 Motson & Rowlinson European Cup 1955–80 ix. 190 This tight triumvirate, Smith in the boardroom, Robinson at the administrative helm, and Paisley on the training ground, headed an Anfield staff which worked as efficiently‥as the team.


7. Drunk; tipsy. Cf. screwed ppl. a. 6. slang.

1830 [implied at tightish a. 3]. 1840 in Amer. Speech (1951) XXVI. 184 After supper I got tight, sick with oysters, and slept. 1853 Househ. Words 24 Sept. 75/2 For the one word drunk, besides the authorised synonyms tipsy, inebriated, intoxicated, I find of unauthorised or slang equivalents‥thirty-two, viz.: in liquor,‥half-seas-over, far-gone, tight [etc.]. 1860 Lever One of Them II. 151 (Flügel) He was very ‘tight’, as we call it‥far gone in liquor, I mean. 1868 —— Bramleighs xxiv. II. 46 ‘No, sir, not a bit tipsy’, said Harding, interpreting his glance; ‘not even what Mr. Cutbill calls “tight”!’ 1882 Sala Amer. Revis. (1885) 269 By the time they reached their hotel [they] were quite ‘tight’.


8. a. Of a garment, etc.: Fitting closely, tight-fitting; often = too tight, closely fitting because not large enough. a tight fit, a garment, etc. which fits tightly; hence transf. (colloq.).

1779 Cook Voy. Pacific vi. vii. (1784) III. 377 A pair of tight trowsers, or long breeches, of leather. 1831 Examiner 11/2 It's rather a tight fit. 1840 Dickens Barn. Rudge vi, A very particular gentleman with exceedingly tight boots on. 1867 Trollope Chron. Barset xxxv, A wedding-ring growing always tighter as I grow fatter and older. 1872 Punch 15 June 250/2 A tight uniform is so bad a thing for the soldier.


b. Of ground: allowing (vehicles) little room for manœuvre. Of a turn, curve, etc.: having a short radius.

1937 Sun (Baltimore) 20 Apr. 4/2 He expressed a hope the airport work would be completed as rapidly as possible, pointing out that Logan Field was ‘rather tight’ for large transports. 1947 A. C. Douglas Gliding & Advanced Soaring i. 24 He based this opinion on the belief‥that they [sc. contemporary airplanes] could not be turned in tight circles like the birds. 1958 Times 19 Feb. 5/4 She [sc. an aircraft] started to turn to starboard, and it seemed clear that the turn became tighter and tighter. 1969 Times 23 May 1/3 The L.M. was due to spend about an hour in a tight orbit approaching within eight nautical miles of the surface. 1979 Beautiful Brit. Columbia Fall 19/1 The highway narrows down to one lane which clings in tight curves around a sheer mountainside.


c. Applied to persons: tough, hard, unyielding; also, aggressive, ‘stroppy’. U.S. dial. or slang.

1928 R. Fisher Walls of Jericho 306 Tight, tough; redoubtable; hard. 1950 Patterson & Conrad Scottsboro Boy i. iii. 30 ‘You'll get it [sc. a bath] Saturday,’ he said. Saturday came and he put me off.‥ I got tight with him. ‘I got to have a bath!’ Ibid. 31, I was a tight guy who would not show people tears, but I felt the water behind my lids. Ibid. ii. vii. 129 There were guys there [sc. in a prison], they made reputations for themselves as tight guys and killers just from defending themselves against the insane. 1960 L. Buckley Hiporama of Classics 16 He was a hard, tight, tough Cat.


9. Difficult to deal with or manage; hard, severe, ‘tough’, ‘stiff’; esp. in phr. a tight place, tight corner, tight squeeze, etc., a position of difficulty. colloq.

1764 Foote Mayor of G. ii. Wks. 1799 I. 180 Is Lady Barbara's work pretty tight? 1772 Nugent tr. Hist. Fr. Gerund I. 10 This question of yours is a tight one. 1852 Townshend (of Ohio) in House Repr. 23 June (Thornton), I felt myself in a tight spot. 1855 Haliburton Nat. & Hum. Nat. xvi. II. 121 It's a tight squeeze sometimes to scrouge between a lie and a truth in business. 1864 Daily Tel. 26 Sept., When they find they are getting into a tight place—to borrow an Americanism—[they] gather up their gold, and run off. 1889 Gretton Memory's Harkb. 80 We were subjected to a very tight examination; for the prize was one of considerable value. 1891 Daily News 14 Nov. 2/3 [It] would suffice to drive the Bears of Russian stock into a tight corner.


10. colloq. or techn. a. Said of a contest in which the combatants are evenly matched; close; so of a bargain: with little margin of profit. orig. U.S.

1828 Webster s.v., A tight bargain. 1848 Bartlett Dict. Amer., Tight match, a close or even match, as of two persons wrestling or running together. 1903 Westm. Gaz. 1 Sept. 3/1 The tighter the match the better he plays.


b. Of a person: Unwilling to part with money, close-fisted; c. Finance, Of money: Difficult to obtain except on high terms; also transf. of the money-market when money is scarce. Of a person: in financial straits, hard up (dial. or slang).

1805 Lewis & Clark Orig. Jrnls. Lewis & Clark Exped. (1904) III. 278 They are tite Deelers, value Blu and white beeds very highly, and sell their roots also highly. 1828 Webster s.v., A man tight in his dealings. 1846–7 F. M. Whitcher Widow Bedott Papers 30 (Bartlett) The Deacon was as tight as the skin on his back; begrudged folk their victuals when they came to his house. 1846 Daily News 21 Jan. 4/6 In Paris money is ‘tight’ also, and discounts difficult. 1859 Hotten Dict. Slang 109 Tight,‥hard up, short of cash. 1864 J. S. Le Fanu Uncle Silas II. xvi. 247 It is a hard case, Miss, a lad o' spirit should be kept so tight. I havn't a shilling. 1866 Crump Banking vii. 152 A tight money market will force sales, and make purchasers‥reluctant to buy. 1868 Lever Bramleighs xvi. I. 219 Money was ‘tight’ being the text of all he said. 1892 ‘T. Cobbleigh’ Gentleman Upcott's Daughter ix. 173 Any man might find himself tight—temporarily.


d. Journalism. (See quot. 1970.) Hence also of (a day of) restricted newspaper space.

1927 Amer. Speech II. 241/2 If advertising crowds out news, the paper is said to be ‘tight’; if advertising is scant, the paper is ‘wide open’. 1927 New Republic 12 Oct. 202/1 Possibly space was ‘tight’ that day, and the newspapers didn't have room for this minor angle of the story. 1928 Amer. Speech IV. 135 The ‘desk’ must know whether ‘room’ is ‘tight’, ‘fair’, ‘good’ or ‘wide open’. If news is ‘heavy’ on a ‘tight day’ and is permitted to ‘run’ in length practically as written, ‘oversets’‥may result. 1970 R. K. Kent Lang. Journalism 133 Tight. 1. designating a newspaper that has little room for news because there is a great deal of advertising: opposite of open. 2. designating a newspaper on a day when there are a great many newsworthy events to record, and hardly enough space to cover them all.


11. a. Closely packed (cf. tighten v. 1b). Of a group or formation: having the individual members positioned close together. Freq. in Sport; also transf. (esp. in Cricket), that allows the opposition little chance to score, etc.: tight bowling, tight fielding, etc.

1856 Kane Arct. Expl. I. xxiv. 313 For thirty-five miles south the straits are absolutely tight [i.e. with ice]. 1942 R.A.F. Jrnl. 13 June 22 They lived in dread of our fighters, and normally kept a tight formation. 1961 F. C. Avis Sportsman's Gloss. 138/2 Tight field, the fieldsmen when drawn closely round the wicket, so preventing the easy scoring of runs. 1961 Times 12 May 4/1 Surrey's bid for quick runs‥was foiled by tight bowling. 1965 Daily Express 13 Aug. 15/5 Tight position, an area of the field in which there are a large number of players, both attacking and defending. 1968 I. Ure Ure's Truly xvii. 116 Let's have expressions such as ‘a steady defence’ rather than a side being described as ‘tight at the back’. 1976 Milton Keynes Express 11 June 41/5 Farnham Royal found it difficult to score against the tight Wolverton bowling. 1977 Arab Times 13 Dec. 9/6 Tight fielding by the Airlines prevented easy scoring and the FSC batsmen had to rely on quick singles and doubles.


b. Of language: Terse, concise, condensed. Also in general, of literary, artistic, or intellectual work: kept within strict limits; pared to essentials; disciplined, taut, not loose or diffuse.

1870 Swinburne Ess. & Stud. (1875) 85 The highest form of ballad‥must condense the large loose fluency of romantic tale-telling into tight and intense brevity. 1958 C. A. Larson Who: Sixty Yrs. Amer. Eminence 75 Quaint little items and details were often inserted in these early biographical sketches which would scarcely survive the tight editing of a modern Marquis editor. 1962 [see pilot n. 1f]. 1979 Sci. Amer. Aug. 24/1 The author‥seeks the answer in this small book of tight argument.


c. Art slang. Lacking freedom or breadth of treatment; cramped.

1891 Spielman in Contemp. Rev. July 60 It [Tenniel's art in 1850] is certainly ‘tighter’: it is younger. 1902 Encycl. Brit. XXVII. 252/1 In his first style [Corot] painted traditionally and ‘tight’—that is to say, with minute exactness, clear outlines, and with absolute definition of objects throughout. 1905 Q. Rev. July 234 His style, if a little what artists call ‘tight’, has the rare gift of being entirely lucid in the expression of subtleties.


d. Of the edge of a saw: Compressed by hammering (Cent. Dict. 1891).


e. Of a schedule or timetable: packed with engagements, leaving little free time. Also applied to a space of time which is limited or restricted.

1959 J. Pope-Hennessy Queen Mary iii. ii. 386 Princess May concentrated on seeing as many of the wonders and beauties of the spacious old Imperial city as she could crowd into four days and a tight social schedule. 1968 P. G. Hollowell Lorry Driver ii. 31 The older drivers are constantly aware that schedules are getting tighter. 1971 J. Sangster Your Friendly Neighbourhood Death Pedlar vii. 187 It was unlikely that anything would happen that night, and the following morning was going to be awfully tight for time. 1972 M. Crichton Terminal Man i. v. 42 ‘I can't see her to-day,’ Morris said, ‘and to-morrow is tight.’ 1976 New Yorker 1 Mar. 30/3 ‘How about seven at O'Hoolihan's? I'm going there with Pat and Betsy.’ ‘Seven's a little tight.’ 1981 P. Harcourt Turn of Traitors ix. 82 Time's going to be tight, so take my car.


12. Billiards. slang. (a) Said of balls when they are in contact: ‘fast’, ‘frozen’. (b) Of pockets: Having a small opening compared with the diameter of the balls.

1909 in Cent. Dict. Supp.


13. The adjective used absolutely. (See also tights.) a. Rugby Football = scrimmage n. 4.

1904 Westm. Gaz. 19 Nov. 15/1 The forwards are strong and hard workers in the tight, but in the loose are slow and cumbersome.‥ Both in the tight and loose they must remember to watch and follow the ball. 1905 Daily Chron. 1 Nov. 9/5 They have shown little dash in the open and no skill in the tight. 1939 Daily Tel. 18 Dec. 11/1 They were better served by their forwards in the tight. 1979 Times 12 Dec. 9/1 They outscrummaged their opponents in the tight.


b. An awkward situation, predicament, ‘tight corner’ (tight a. 9). Usu. in phr. in a tight; occas. const. for. U.S. dial. or colloq.

1896 in Dialect Notes (1916) IV. 348 Tight, n. (From tight place.) A difficult or precarious position. 1902 W. N. Harben Abner Daniel xxi. 182 It would tempt five men out of ten if they were inclined to go wrong, and were in a tight. 1930 W. Faulkner As I lay Dying 29, I tell him again I will help him out if he gets into a tight, with her sick and all. 1938 M. K. Rawlings Yearling xv. 177 Jody's in a tight for a name for the new Baxter. 1950 Patterson & Conrad Scottsboro Boy ii. xi. 175 ‘You scared that man almost to death.’ ‘I was in a tight jam then, Warden. I was trying to get out of a tight.’ 1979 G. Swarthout Skeletons 18 Pat Garrett‥had said of him in public: ‘I would rather have Wood with me in a tight than any man I know.’


14. Formerly (14th–17th c.) appended to ton, pipe, hogshead, dolium, as measures of capacity, originally and especially stating the number of tons burden (i.e. the tonnage) of a ship; also as an equivalent weight of stones, gravel, salt, etc. See also ton, tonnage, tun.

[1894 C. N. Robinson Brit. Fleet 217 The unit of ship measurement, both in England and on the continent, at the time [of Henry VII], was, as heretofore, the tun cask of wine, and the stated tons or tuns burthen of a ship meant the number of tuns or butts of wine she could carry. Warships' tonnage was estimated by roughly comparing their bulk with merchant-ships of known carrying capacity.]
1379 Rolls of Parlt. III. 63/2 Pur prendre de chescun nief & craier, de quele portage q'il soit, qe passe par la mier dedeinz le dite Admiralte alant & retournant, par le voiage de chescun tonne-tight vjd.‥ Item, de prendre de chescun vesseau pessoner, qe pessent sur la mier du dit Admiralte entour Harang, de quele portage q'il soit, en un simaigne de chescun tonne-tight, vid.‥en troiz simaignes de chescun tonne-thight, vid. 1410 in Proc. Privy Council (1834) I. 327 La somme des gages & regardz des gens darmes archers conestables & marins deinz especifiez, ovesque le tonnetyght samontent par un qart‥viijml ccxlj. li. xviij. s. vjd. 1427–9 Rolls of Parlt. IV. 365/1 To have Lettres Patentz‥for to take and resceyve of every Vessell ladon of‥C tonnetite viiid, and of every Vessell of lesse tite iiiid. Ibid [French version], P[re]ndre & avoir de chacun Nief del portage de‥C tonelx‥viiid., & de chacun autre Vessell de meyndre portage‥iiiid. 1428–9 Rec. St. Mary at Hill 70 For a tonne tyght of northerin ston for þe new chirche porche‥vijs viijd. a1483 Liber Niger in Househ. Ord. (1790) 74 The kinge hathe it intytled by his prerogative to have of every shippe from xx dol' tyght before the mast & behynd to have ii dol' wyne; and soe of every shippe tyll he come to the tyght of ccc dol'; then the kinge hath before and behynd of every such shippe iiii dol' wyne. 1495 Naval Accts. Hen. VII (1896) 154 Payed‥for cccclxviij ton tyght of‥Stones vijli. xvjs. As for ciiijxxxvj ton tyght of gravell xxiiijs. vjd. 1497 Ibid. 186 For the hyre of hys bote conteynyng vij Tonne Tight. Ibid. 228 A pipe Tyghte yron price xls. &‥for a hoggeshed Tyghte yron price—xxs. a1500 in Arnolde Chron. (1811) 127 A crane sufficient and able to take vp from the water of the Thamis the weight of a tonne tight. 1504 Sel. Cas. Crt. Star Chamber (Selden) 212 Of & for eny ton or ton tyght of marchaundis conteigned in the same vesselles‥vjd. 1603 Owen Pembrokeshire (1892) 139 In bargayninge by the toone yt requireth that yt be expressed what nomber of barrells the toonne shalbe of, ffor of late yeares‥toonne tight, whch comonly is vsed in bargaynes of freight, differreth from the toonne by measure both of corne and salte.


B. adv. (The adj. used adverbially.)


1. Soundly, roundly; = tightly 1. Now chiefly in colloq. phr. (good night) sleep tight, a conventional (rhyming) formula used when parting for the night or at bedtime. Also in slang phr. blow me tight: see blow v.1 29.

1790 J. Fisher Poems 61, I charg'd them tight, An' gart them pay o' lawing clink, Mair than was right. 1898 Elizabeth & German Garden 29 She had been so tight asleep. 1933 E. O'Neill Ah, Wilderness! iii. ii. 101 Good night, Son. Sleep tight. 1957 [see nighty-night int.]. 1960 D. Lessing In Pursuit of English iii. 99 When we left him, she patted his shoulder with triumphant patronage, and said: ‘Sleep tight. And keep your dreams clean.’ 1976 ‘R. Boyle’ Cry Rape xxi. 94 Goodnight, Anne. Sleep tight.


2. a. Firmly, closely, securely; so as not to allow any movement: = tightly 3.

1680 Moxon Mech. Exerc. xii. 208 You may without more ado screw up your Work tight. 1768 Tucker Lt. Nat. (1834) I. 194 The prospect of getting a livelihood holds them tight to their work. 1838 Dickens Nich. Nick. liii, Holding tight on with both hands. 1878 T. L. Cuyler Pointed Papers 206 The tighter I clung the safer I felt.


b. to sit tight, †to apply oneself closely to (obs.); to maintain one's position firmly in reference to something; also, to sit close, to remain under cover. colloq.

1738 Lond. Mag. 131 Andromache and all the great Ladies 3000 Years ago, sat very tight to their Stitching. 1890 G. B. Shaw in Star 27 Nov. 2/7 I, therefore, again urge Mr Parnell to ‘sit tight’. 1897 V. Hunt Unkist, Unkind xiv, ‘Sit tight!’ she exclaimed, pinching my arm violently. She always talks slang when she is excited. 1898 Daily News 10 Feb. 3/2 No money is forthcoming, and banks sit tight. 1909 Athenæum 20 Mar. 345/3 Is not ‘Sit tight’ the watchword of constitutionalism?


3. With close constriction or pressure; closely, tensely; = tightly 2.

1818 Scott Rob Roy xxxii, A horse-girth buckled tight behind him. 1853 Landor Imag. Conv., Hare & L. Wks. 1891 IV. 423 He whose dress sits tight upon him.


4. as tight as ——: as quickly or rapidly as ——. Cf. tite adv. U.S. dial.

1833 S. Smith Life & Writings J. Downing lix. 200 The President shook hands with all his might an hour or two until he couldn't hardly stand it.‥ I‥stood behind him and reached my arm round under his, and shook for him for about a half an hour as tight as I could spring. 1867 W. L. Goss Soldier's Story of his Captivity 185 Captain Sherman‥was making for Macon as ‘tight as he can come’. 1884 ‘Mark Twain’ Huck. Finn xix. 180 A couple of men were tearen up the path as tight as they could foot it.


5. Close up to, after, or on. dial. or colloq.

1886 F. T. Elworthy W. Somerset Word-bk. 756 The bitch was tight arter'n. 1901 Century Mag. May 123/1 They was tight up t'me all the way. 1919 J. C. Snaith Love Lane xxx. 160 He lived to be tight on ninety.


C. Combinations.


1. Adjectival, as tight-belted (having a tight belt), tight-bodied, tight-booted, tight-hosed, tight-limbed, tight-skinned, tight-skirted, tight-sleeved, tight-waisted adjs; cf. tight-lipped a. (Sometimes not clearly distinguishable from next.)

1767 S. Paterson Another Trav. I. 315 Their habit is entirely white‥and being tight-bodied, gives them the appearance of a company of millers in their holiday-cloaths. 1836 T. Hook G. Gurney v, Perhaps a tight-skinned sailor walking his way to town from Portsmouth. 1859 G. Meredith R. Feverel ii, The boy was‥not so tight-limbed and well-set. 1896 Howells Impressions & Exp. 73 She wore a tight-skirted black walking-dress. 1896 Edith Thompson in Monthly Packet Christmas No. 80 Tight-booted and tight-belted in correct Continental military style.


2. Adverbial, as tight-bound (= tightly bound), tight-closed, tight-draped, tight-drawn, tight-fitting, tight-looking, tight-made, tight-packed, tight-pressed, tight-rooted, tight-shut, tight-stretched adjs.; tight-reining n.; tight-clasp, tight-tie verbs. See also tight-laced, etc.

1801 M. Edgeworth Angelina ii, She was hospitably received by a tight-looking woman. 1819 Keats Ode Melancholy i, Go not to Lethe, neither twist Wolf's bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine. 1832 Scoreby Farm Rep. 8 in Libr. Usef. Knowl., Husb. III, A large and tight-bound sheaf will require to stand two days longer than a small one. 1844 Dickens Mart. Chuz. v, I did not think you were half such a tight-made fellow! 1846 E. A. Poe in Godey's Lady's Bk. Nov. 216/1 He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress. 1860 Reade Cloister & H. (1861) I. 20 Clad in a pair of tight-fitting buckskin hose. 1865 Dickens Mut. Fr. iv. vii, With the palms of his hands tight-clasping his hot temples. 1879 Browning Ivan Ivanovitch 166 I'll‥tight-tie you with the strings Here of my heart! 1884 Yates Recoll. ii. (Tauchn.) 80 After tight-reining and regular hours. 1896 A. Palmer in Academy 25 Jan. 80/3 It is strange how the tight-stretched tambourine can be called molle. 1905 Daily Chron. 21 Oct. 5/2 Strong men stood with tight-drawn lips. 1918 G. Frankau One of Them xxix. 223 Tight-packed as, face to tail and tail to face, Bristle in Watson's tins the silvery ‘Skippers’. 1950 Partridge Slang To-day & Yesterday (ed. 3) iii. iii. 257 The ten-page, tight-packed chapter entitled ‘War Words’ in Collinson's Contemporary English.


3. Special combs.: tight back Bookbinding, a book cover which is stuck directly on to the spine; cf. fast back, fastback, s.v. fast a. 11; tight barrel or cask, a barrel for liquids; also called wet barrel or cask; cf. slack a. 10; so tight cooper (see quot.); tight-corking (Angling), a method of float-fishing in which the line (with the float or cork) is kept taut between the point of the rod and the plummet at the bottom; tight end N. Amer. Football, an offensive end (end n. 3g) who lines up close to the tackle; the position occupied by this player; tight-fisted a., parsimonious, close-fisted; hence tight-fistedness; tight head Rugby Football, (the position of) the prop forward supporting the hooker on the opposite side of the scrum from the loose head; to win a tight head = to win the ball against the head (see head n. 26c); tight-jeff: see jeff; tight junction Cytology, a specialized connection of two adjacent animal cell membranes such that the space usually lying between them is absent; tight-lock dial. (see quot.); tight shop, a cooperage where tight work is done; tight work (see quot.).

1913 Funk's Stand. Dict. II. 2518/1 *Tight back (Bookbinding), a back that clings to the signatures or to the paster attached to them: distinguished from loose back or spring back. 1929 A. J. Vaughan Mod. Bookbinding i. 2 (caption) A limp paper book bound with a tight back. Effect of a tight back binding upon stiff paper. 1957 E. A. Clough Bookbinding for Librarians vi. 60 Because the tight back bends with the spine of the book, there is a tendency for the tooling on the spine to crack. 1884 Knight Dict. Mech. Suppl., Slack Barrel, one for flour, sugar, cement, fruit, and what not, of a dry character. In contradistinction to *tight barrel. 1759 Ellis in Phil. Trans. LI. 209 This was put into a *tight cask. 1877 Encycl. Brit. VI. 338 Tight or wet and dry or slack cask manufacture. 1889 Cent. Dict. s.v. Cooper, Wet or *tight cooper, a cooper who makes casks for liquids. 1867 F. Francis Angling i. (1880) 59 *Tight-corking is using a heavyish float well shotted and plumbed some two feet two deep. 1963 Huff & Smith Defensive Football vi. 72 When playing the *tight end head to head, the linebacker must be aware [etc.]. 1972 J. Mosedale Football ii. 29 With Fears spread out on one side and Shaw in close, the ‘three end offense’ was born. Today the positions are called split end, tight end and flanker. 1978 J. Irving World according to Garp viii. 162 A standout tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles. 1844 Dickens Christmas Carol i, He was a *tight-fisted hand at the grindstone. 1975 Church Times 25 Apr. 2/3 Let it be seen‥that we have asked the very necessary questions about the liberality or *tight-fistedness of the [European] Community's policy on trade with the under-developed countries. 1959 N.Z. Listener 28 Aug. 7 You can't afford to give *tight heads in your own 25 when you've got fast backs like that against you. 1960 V. Jenkins Lions down Under xiii. 170 Dawson won six tight-heads to three in the scrums. 1969 Advanced Coaching (Rugby Football Union) 73 On the tight head it may still be preferable to hook with the nearside foot, but with the body facing the loose head side so as to hook the ball with the inside‥part of the foot. 1978 Rugby World Apr. 17/1 There seems nothing to stop Graham Price reigning for many years to come as the world's outstanding tight-head prop. 1961 Jrnl. Exper. Med. CXIV. 706 The normal slits as well as the *tight junctions have structural features reminiscent of usual epithelial desmosomes. 1982 Nature 1 Apr. 464/1 Our evidence, which is based on direct rapid freezing of newly formed tight junctions between rat prostate epithelial cells, indicates that individual tight junction strands are pairs of inverted cylindrical micelles sandwiched between linear fusions of the external membrane leaflets of adjacent cells. a1825 Forby Voc. E. Anglia, *Tight-lock, any species of coarse sedge growing in marsh ditches. So called, from its being used to bind the sheaves of beans or oats, growing very luxuriantly on such land. 1892 Labour Commission Gloss., *Tight Shops, workshops in which tight work is performed. Ibid. s.v. Work, *Tight work is a term used in the coopering industry to denote the making of casks or any vessels to hold water or liquids.